Violence and crime have declined in Mexico since 2012, says a report by an international research organization, with current conditions being similar to what they were in 2007.
The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) says falling homicide rates and activity by organized crime have not only made the country more peaceful but have helped boost the economy. It also concludes that there is great potential for peace in the long term based on institutional strengths.
The Mexico Peace Index shows the national level of peace has improved 16% since 2011, with improvements in 26 states, but also notes that under-reporting of crimes and the lack of prosecutions are a concern. The justice efficiency indicator, which measures the ratio of homicides to homicide convictions, continues to worsen: the ratio doubled from 1.45 in 2006 to 3.43 in 2013.
The ratio of people sentenced to prison terms also worsened, falling from 210 per 100,000 people to 104, which combined with the deterioration in the justice efficiency indicator represents “a troubling trend that highlights the urgent need to fully implement the current justice reforms.”
The institute said another serious issue is that most violent crimes go unreported: only 8% of rapes and 23% of assaults are reported to authorities. However, that under-reporting has been taken into account by adjusting figures to create a more accurate index, say its authors.
The reliability of crime statistics has been called into question by many over the years, a concern to which the IEP has responded by comparing other data and victim surveys against official figures. The results, says the institute, “strongly suggest the progress in peace is real.”
That progress means Mexico is almost as peaceful now as it was in 2007, says the study, which is when the war on drug trafficking escalated under former President Felipe Calderón.
Homicides have seen the greatest improvement, having decreased by almost 30%, while the level of organized crime dropped by 25%, though weapons-related crimes were up 11%.
The most favorable states in terms of peace were Hidalgo, Yucatán, Querétaro, Campeche, Tlaxcala and Chiapas; the worst were Guerrero, Morelos, Sinaloa, Michoacán and Guanajuato.
The most peaceful metropolitan areas were Orizaba in Veracruz, Tulancingo in Hidalgo, Campeche in the state of the same name, Los Cabos in Baja California Sur, and Pachuca in Hidalgo.
The least peaceful were Culiacán in Sinaloa, Chilpancingo in Guerrero, Tecomán in Colima, La Laguna in Coahuila and Durango, and Acapulco, Guerrero.
Regionally, the east is best while the north remains the most violent, but the gap is narrowing.
In economic terms, the index estimates that violence cost the economy US $233 billion in 2014, which represents 17.3% of Gross Domestic Product.
“The recent improvements in peace have had a beneficial impact on the Mexican economy. However the impact of violence is still three times greater than the total Mexican health budget,” Steve Killelea, the IEP’s executive chairman, said in a statement.
One peace index indicator which bodes well for the future is the positive peace surplus, which is derived from an analysis of the relative strength of the country’s attitudes, institutions and structures. That analysis suggests Mexico can become more peaceful based on the strength and quality of its institutions, which ranks much higher than its actual level of peace.
Its potential to improve peace levels gives it a positive peace surplus that is one of the largest in the world.
In the words of the report: “. . . there is great potential for reducing violence, improving developmental outcomes and improving well being, provided that appropriate reforms are undertaken.”
The IEP’s Global Peace Index last year placed Mexico in 138th place on a list of 162 countries.
Mexico News Daily
CORRECTION: This post was updated to correct the state in which Culiacán is located.